Keeping your home free from allergy and asthma triggers is one of the most important steps in controlling allergy symptoms. AllergyCosmos put this infographic together to show you how you can create a healthier home for you and your family.
Hello again. Today I’d like to continue our series about how to be eco-friendly in a laboratory. Remember last weeks post about the initiative at the Simon Fraser University? Here’s another university promoting green laboratories: the University of Washington. Besides the Green Office, Green Greek (“acknowledges and educates Greek community members about their habits at home relating to sustainability”) and “SEED Green Endorsement” (recognising UW students living on campus and off, who are thoughtful about the impact of their daily life on the environment), it has the Green Laboratory Program, which I’ll introduce here now in more detail, i.e. especially the Freezer Challenge.
As pointed out on their website, “Laboratories are one of the main generators of waste …”. So true. Working in a molecular biology lab, I’v thrown away a lot of consumables every day – all the reaction vials called Eppis, all the disposable pipette tips, transfer pipets, micro plates, … – it’s simply the way, it’s the way they are supposed to be used: just once. And then you throw them away.
But leaving this aspect aside for the moment (more about this in a later post), there’s another factor with a huge impact on the environment: the energy consumption of a laboratory. I didn’t know that a lab is “using about 4 times more energy than an office of the same size”. Wow. But giving it some thought, I absolutely believe it because there’s a lot of equipment running from morning to evening or even 24h. Of course, some equipment has to run permanently, such as the various incubators, fridges and freezers. After all, your freezer at home also runs 24/7, doesn’t it? But – and here’s an important difference – your freezer at home probably got a good Energy Star rating. Why? Let’s be honest: because it’s you who’s paying the electricity bill and getting one of those A+++ fridges is one one way to save money, isn’t it?
I know, we’re back talking about money and not just about saving the environment. My feeling is that you can’t avoid this connection – there’s simply a strong link between them. Anyway, why not use saving money as a strong motivation to be more eco friendly? In the laboratory, it’s the university who’s paying the bills. But if you care about it anyway and help them to reduce their energy bill:
a) you’ve done something good for the planet and
b) you might get more money for your research – at least, you’d very much hope, that’s where the saved money ends up.
Growing an organic garden is rewarding work. Eating fresh, healthy food straight from the garden lifts both the body and spirit. Unfortunately, many insects and other pests like to sample the fresh produce as well. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to keep pests off my plants without harming beneficial insects or the plants.
Recently, I read about two recipes from horticulturalist Estelle Bogoch-Stelmach. She instructs gardeners on effective, natural pest control strategies using common, safe ingredients. Most store-bought pesticides are chemical concoctions that indiscriminately kill insects, including beneficial bugs such as pollinators and insects that prey on the pests eating our produce. These pesticides also end up on the food we are growing and ultimately find their way into our bodies where their toxic effects continue. Most commercial pesticides are proven nervous system toxins and hormone disruptors.
Conventional packing materials we’re all familiar with—Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic air pillows—do the job, but they also create non-biodegradable waste. Mark and Robin Le Vine, of BubbleFAST, talk about their company’s mission to make packaging as green as possible, and they share their favorite green shipping tips.
“We pride ourselves in trying to provide as many durable earth friendly products as we can find,” says Mark. “Examples are green bubble cushioning made from recycled materials, eco-friendly packing tape and biodegradable packing peanuts and biodegradable poly mailers.”
Mark says that moving and shipping supplies need to be durable and strong to protect, which makes it more difficult to create green packaging. “Biodegradable items, by definition, break down easier and faster than those that are not. Thus, it is a challenge to find moving/shipping supplies that are both,” he says. He has worked with vendors to solve this problem, creating some products that are made from recycled material and others that are constructed from special formulas that allow for quicker biodegradability while maintaining strength.
Mark says that every year the company runs a special during Earth Month where they highlight their environmentally friendly products. “During the promotion we donate a portion of our green product sales to Global Green USA.”
According to the EPA, 31 percent, or 77 million tons, of municipal solid waste comes from containers and packaging.
This presents a difficulty. You want to make sure that your valuables are protected and that they make it to their destination damage-free. Yet you also want to do your best to protect the environment. Mark and Robin explain their six favorite and most practical green shipping tips: